Depression - how it manifests and how to engage with it

There are various recurring themes attached to depression and low mood. These themes are often rooted in loss, feeling undervalued, trapped or out of control, early childhood trauma and unhealthy lifestyles.

The aforementioned types of circumstances enable a clearer understanding of the type of precursors that can act as "mediators of mood state" inciting chemical changes or imbalances, resulting in feeling defeated. This in turn impairs our ability to manage our affects in a healthy, balanced manner. A useful approach, preferably with the help of an experienced therapist is to work upon relocating the rational part of self that makes sense of things, does not get caught up in extreme thinking and can apply clear boundaries and choice making.

The body/mind link

This entails integrating the various facets of ourselves (or parts of ourselves that take on different roles) in varying situations, in order to remind ourselves that we consist of many different facets and can often find alternative ways of evaluating a situation if we look to another part of ourselves.

It is helpful to recognise that our brains function differently when we are depressed, it is merely a stubborn part of self that takes over, blocking the collaborative view of our other facets, inciting negativity.  It is also common knowledge that thought influences our feelings. These negative messages start to become relayed through neuro-transmitters, controlling motivation, sleep and appetite, etc.

In short, it is helpful to regularly challenge these negative thoughts and limited ways of thinking, in order to engage with our very own "voice of reason".

Working therapeutically with depression and low mood

It is helpful to commence by monitoring the frequency of depression, as well as the stress levels and triggers. It is cathartic if we can release these emotions and talk about how these low feelings affect us. It can help release the burden of internalizing these unhealthy thoughts, as well as brainstorming to detect possible triggers. These triggers are helpful in that we can recognise how they are contributing to the change in our brain chemistry, pushing us into this "depressed state". The work is also about looking at doing certain things in a different way, attempting to avoid certain triggers. It is also vital to challenge the validity of certain thoughts or ways of thinking, this can lower the impact of negativity of thought.

If one can discern the first signs of thinking in a negative way, through becoming one's own self-monitor, this will help counter those intrusive thoughts, helping to reduce the impact of depression. Long-term stress is also known to adversely affect mood chemicals, therefore it is wise to monitor this and where possible reduce the load.

Cortisol is an active hormone that increases sensitivity to threat. If under threat, it heightens intensity causing harm. Therefore the more able we become at viewing these depression bouts as a facet of self, but not our entire being, the more successful we may become at challenging that rational side of our brain to calm the depressed side of the brain, in order to regain equilibrium.

Gaining equilibrium is more likely if we keep a mood diary and are able to monitor our mood swings. It is also more viable to be a success if we can learn to work on the "inner self", finding deper compassion, acceptance and kindness towards self.

Through making small changes, one can make headway towards significant change.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Richmond Upon Thames, Surrey, TW9
Written by Debera Dias, MBACP, NCS Acc. P.G.dip
Richmond Upon Thames, Surrey, TW9

I am an Integrative Therapist who works incorporating a blend of approaches, including Humanistic, Psychodynamic, CBT and, T.A. I believe that establishing connectivity and trust enables a client to feel heard and their story validated - often encouraging personal insight and the ability for a client to find their answers within.

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